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Feb 23, 2011 12:15 AM

Dutch ovens, Mario Batali vs Le Creuset or Staub...picture speaks a thousand words

I ran across this and thought it was a neat little comparison and blog post by someone who has enamel cookware and knows how to treat it on how the Mario Batali held up for her.

The picture is of the Mario Batali after ~2 years vs a 5 month old Le Creuset, though she states the Mario chipped right at the get-go and after a year looked a lot like it does now in that photo (I imagine it doesn't look a lot worse because for 5 months of that 2nd year she started using the Le Creuset instead.

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  1. Yep, I think those pictures tell the same story that's been going around here for quite some time. In some cases, you do get what you pay for. That was very interesting, thank you for posting the link.

    We've had our first Staub only a couple of years now and it looks as good as new. It probably doesn't get the work out that the bloger's pots get, but it sees weekly use and you would never know it's been used.

    1. Le Creuset Dutch Oven should have a more chip resistant and stain resistant coating. As for Mario Batali Dutch Oven, it is expensive among the cheaper enameled Dutch Ovens, and there were reviews about it is prone to chipping. If someone wants a good quality and (more importantly) a good warrenty enameled Dutch Oven, then Le Creuset and Staub are the better choices. If someone want a cheaper alternative, then I will look among Lodge Color, Tramontina and Chefmate which are cheaper at ~$50 and with better reputations than that of Mario Batali. My understanding is that Mario Batali and Martha Stewart versions are a bit overpriced for their quality.

      Come to think of it, maybe most cookware branded with a celebrity chef/host name are not particularly good.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I think that's true of ANY celebrity branded cooking product. It was pounded home for me when I discovered that a particular cookie mix that I am very fond of, The Barefoot Contessa's Ultimate Ginger cookies, is just a repackaged Stonwall Farms mix marked up @ 50%. All these people are just leveraging their brand, which is all fine and well, but they don't stand to lose what a dedicated brand does if they disappoint their customers. There will always be another person standing in line that buys it just because of the name.

        And as far as cleaning enamel goes, when it comes time to do it I use fine-grade automotive paste polish that you can get at any car parts store. The point of this stuff is to restore the paint finish on a car to a mirror like surface. It removes stains on enamel pots but much more importantly it restores and smoothes the surface of the enamel and makes it once again resistant to staining.

        1. re: LovinSpoonful

          LovinSpoonful, if you're still around, perhaps you can answer a question for me. I've had my two LC Dutch ovens since the 80s, and both lost their lustre and stained a light brown very early on. I tried everything and got very discouraged trying to return it to the somewhat glossy finish they had. (Like the photo for the story above.)

          So - this automotive paste will remove the stains and bring that lustre back - so it looks like the poster's LC?

          Fingers are crossed and it may make me bring them back out. I stopped using them because everything stuck to them constantly.

          1. re: breadchick

            What are you cooking that sticks?

            1. re: breadchick

              I am doubtful that you can bring back the glossy finish by using some polishing pastes.

              1. re: breadchick

                My LC turned permanently light brown after the first few times I used it, and hasn't gotten worse over the past 30 years. It never occured to me to try to get it back to its original lustre, since I would just have to repeat it over and over again...sort of like making my bed each morning only to trash it each night....But my husband and I don't agree on that, either, so perhaps to each her/his own.

                1. re: Claudette

                  It is probably a losing battle to try to keep it glossy original color.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    So the discoloration and dulling is normal, which I kinda thought until seeing the photo in the original post. What always seems to stick in the oven is chicken and beef - even though I follow the rules of the cooking road: let the pan get hot, add oil, and then let the protein take its time to brown and release. hmmm, I think I'll have to give it another go. I've just acquired so many other pans over the years that I left them in the back of the cupboard.

                    I hope they haven't felt too neglected.

                    1. re: breadchick

                      I think you can maintain the glossy surface as long as you never use anything too harsh to wash the enameled surface.

                      As for the color, I think that completely depends on what you use the Dutch Oven for and what you cook in it. For example, I don't know many people who use the enameled Dutch oven for "no knead bread" without darkening the cookware. My friend has a LC and he did one no knead bread and it darkened. He was a bit disappointed.

                      Good luck.

                      1. re: breadchick

                        I was surprised at the photos in the link in the OP because I would have expected, based on personal experience, that after repeated use the LC would be slightly discolored by now. Not cracked or chipped, but darkened a bit.

                    2. re: Claudette

                      I had a LC French oven that had discolored through 35+ years of use. I sent LC a photo and they immediately offered to replace it with a brand new French oven. All I had to pay was the cost of postage.

                    3. re: breadchick

                      Le Creuset has a lifetime warranty and great customer service. Call them for information. Especially since your DOs are older, you should be able to get replacements. Sticking should not be an issue with enamel CI.

                2. Dead post I know, but for what it's worth America's Test Kitchen rated Batali's as the best value and best buy among popular dutch ovens.

                  To me; Le Creuset may be the best quality,, but you might as well attach a celebrity name to it - their name alone holds a TON of markup for what is essentially a very cheap and basic pot and a design thats been around for hundreds of years.

                  I'm interested in a Staub right now, seems like the best compromise.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jefskil

                    AMT opinion as best buy or vest value mean basically nothing if you are looking for a quality product that will last.

                  2. The Batali is made in China. I avoid most things made in China, when I can, and most things with a celebrity name attached.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: GH1618

                      I bought a Tramontina about 4 years ago after reading a review in Cooks Illustrated. I've been very happy with it, it has held up well, and very good price (around $50 at Target).

                    2. I bought a 6 quart Giada DiLaurentis Dutch oven from Target because it was affordable, and let's face it, she's just darned cute. But after six months of proper use and care there was a huge chip on the bottom, and chips on a number of the little humidity bumps on the underside of the lid.

                      So, I brought it back to Target, no receipt, and exchanged it for a Lodge Color 6 quart. It was actually $10 cheaper, and it has held up beautifully in the past 12 months of regular use.

                      I should also say that I scored my 13 1/4 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven, aka "Big Blue" a number of years ago at a factory outlet that sold seconds. It was on sale, and had a bit of odd discoloration to the lid which you could barely notice, so what would have been nearly $400 was just under $200. You can't beat that. And the only wear noticeable is that there is a bit of staining in the bottom, but who cares?

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: EarlyBird


                        I have the Lodge Color one too. It is a solid enameled cast iron cookware. That being said, I would totally buy anything Giada told me too. :P

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Is "solid enameled cast iron cookware" different than a Dutch oven, in regard to the size and shape of ours?

                          1. re: EarlyBird

                            :) I hope you are not teasing me.

                            My Lodge Color is also a Dutch Oven -- same size as yours (6 Quart).

                            Lodge Color does include other cookwares like grill pan, casserole:


                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Ah! A misunderstanding. You were just further describing the material that our Lodge Dutch ovens are made of, not suggesting they were not Dutch ovens. (I've been having problems communicating on this board lately!)